Pizza-makers in the southern Italian city of Naples are furious over the absence of any Neapolitan pizzerias on the list of the best 2,000 pizza houses published by Gambero Rosso, the Italian equivalent of the famed Michelin Guide for food and wine.
They are also incensed that a pizzeria – named "I Tigli, or The Lime Trees -- located in the northern city of Verona (a bitter soccer rival to Naples) received the highest accolade in the guide as being the best pizza restaurant in the country.
Neapolitans have long insisted that pizza originated in their fair city and have even requested that the dish be added to UNESCO’s “intangible cultural heritage” list.
Sergio Miccu, the president of the Neapolitan association of pizza makers, declared: "Even though pizza is part of the heritage of the whole world, its origins are in Naples and it was Neapolitans who taught the art of pizza-making to other countries."
Pizza-makers staged a rally in Naples on Wednesday, denouncing Gambero Rosso.
Some demonstrators held up placards which read “shame of Gambero Rosso” and ”now they [northerners] even want to steal our pizza.”
"This is an act of culinary racism," said Francesco Borrelli, a Neapolitan politician and a member of the Green Party, who organized the protest, according to The Daily Telegraph newspaper of Britain.
"This is the umpteenth example of hostility towards our city and our traditions. The fact that Gambero Rosso did not find a single Neapolitan pizzeria to include is shameful."
Miccu even suggested that Gambero Rosso (which is based in Rome) omitted any Neapolitan establishments from its list as a reflection of political bias and that they were seeking to “destroy the culture” of Naples.
According to LifeinItaly.com, the modern pizza is believed to have been first developed in Naples in the early 19th century, alongside the rising popularity of the tomato in Italian cuisine.
Ironically, tomatoes arrived in Italy as early 1530s, but the locals shunned the red fruit because they believed it was poisonous.
“However the innovative (and probably starving) peasants of Naples started using the supposedly deadly [tomato] in many of their foods, including their early pizzas,” the website stated.
“Since that fateful day the world of Italian cuisine would never be the same; however it took some time for the rest of society to accept this crude peasant food.”